Mandava comes alive

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Bruised FC Platinum and inconsistent Caps United square up in an epic Castle Lager Premier Soccer League duel at Mandava Stadium on Saturday afternoon as the small mining town comes alive.

The platinum miners, who last celebrated victory on July 31 with a 1-0 win over fellow miners Hwange, have gone on a torrid four-game winless streak which has produced a single goal and three points out of a possible 12.

The Zvishavane side is tied on 42 points with leaders Motor Action who enjoy a superior goal difference.

Pressure continues to mount on the wealthy side who have to win this game at all costs to keep pace with the Mighty Bulls and run away from hotly pursuing Dynamos, who have been on the ascendancy since Callisto Pasuwa took over as coach in July.

DeMbare’s upsurge, which has seen them closing to within three points of the leading pack, has created a lot of anxiety in both FC Platinum and the Bulls.

In the Caps United dressing room, the former cup kings have reshuffled coaching personnel thrice since August last year, and coach Lloyd Chitembwe is carrying the heavy mission of steering his side from an unfamiliar ninth spot to a decent position for a traditional giant in local soccer.

United have been blowing hot and cold even after the return of Chitembwe whose coaching exploits are yet to reach respectable heights.

Chitembwe has won two games and lost one in the three games he has been in charge since he was rehired last month.

Today’s match is another severe scrutiny for the former midfielder’s coaching credentials after he prevailed 3-1 over Highlanders in their last match at home.

But FC Platinum mentor Rahman Gumbo, who previously had a coaching spell at Caps, is equally under a stern test to do justice to his high coaching pedigree.

Platinum’s recent poor run of form has exerted a lot of pressure on Gumbo who however continues to wear a brave face amid an outing which has been deemed disastrous for a wealthy side.

“We are not panicking just because we are playing Caps United. We are not worried about them at all,” said Gumbo.

“We will take it easy and approach the game as any other match. There is nothing too special about this encounter. Caps are just as good as any other side in the league and we do not look at any team’s high profile name. They are not special and we are just going to try hard and win.

“Of course, we are gunning for three points and the two-week break we have had has not affected our rhythm. We used it to gather our act together and try to get back to winning ways.”

Gumbo, who enjoyed a seven-game unbeaten streak after he assumed the reins on June 1, will miss suspended steely defender Daniel Vheremu, a situation which could see Norman Togara being given a run.

Charles Sibanda, who has had a tough outing in the last four matches, is expected to redeem himself while Benjamin Marere is known to shine in big games.

Caps United will make do without striker Evans Gwekwerere who is reported to be on trial at South African giants Orlando Pirates.

Midfielder Ashley Rambanapasi is also doubtful due to injury while the team welcomes back captain Marvel Samaneka and defender Nyasha Mukumbi who have been discharged from the treatment table.